I love coffee. Who doesn’t! The aroma, the hot steaming brew in the morning! I wake up each morning with expectancy for a fresh new brew. With the choices we have here in America… I could choose Sumatra, Java, Arabica, Colombia… any beans from anywhere! It’s like bringing the world to my early morning cup. Coffee has been in my life for decades.
While packing things into boxes one day I had a revelation… a desire to change things and not be bound by a thing, a drink, a food group or a particular behavior. There is not a need to be addicted to anything. What if, while traveling I could not find the perfect brew? Didn’t I choose this lifestyle for the sake of being free to see, explore and teach my teens about the world? What are the essentials?
On January 1st, I went coffee-free, sugar-free and gluten-free… vegetarian diet for 31 days. Denying my flesh from all those foods that I love. It was hell from the get-go. The first two days my head was throbbing and my whole body was unable to function like normal days. I was tired, had nausea and the headache was intense. Instead of going for ibuprofen when the headache struck hard, I went for aromatherapy and my superfruit drink called NingXia Red.
For one and half years I’ve been studying and applying what I learned about natural pathways to health and about value of stuff that I have around the house.
Here are 6 lessons learned since quitting coffee and packing things to travel around the world:
One: Nothing Should Own Me
“I must have coffee everyday” sounds like bondage to me or “I must have 10 dresses, six pairs of shoes, five pairs of jeans and pants, 15 shirts to travel” seems like there is no other way to travel but to bring almost my whole closet.
Packing for 18 months travel with many road trips, trains and plane rides require lots of creativity with our wardrobe and health supplies. I’m setting priorities and putting basic necessities into my luggage.
Two: Health Reign Supreme
I could have been the most well dressed person in my home that day and was served with the best meal when I was suffering from coffee-withdrawal, but it didn’t matter. I was sick and unable to enjoy.
Mahatma Gandhi said it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. For gold and silver may not be able to buy health back. I saw it when my father passed away.
Three: Invest in Health Not Stuff
Growing up in Malaysia I saw people who would rather go hungry and ate ramen noodles because buying a name brand handbag was more important than eating a healthy meal. I was one of those people.
These days we buy stuff and more stuff without thinking and when it comes to health foods, nutritional supplements or eating clean we contemplate and may talk ourselves out of it in the expense of building a healthy body (which includes mind and spirit). I had that mentality once.
My stuff gets new homes, found their fate in the dumpster or being packed for storage now as we empty the condo. Three quarters are gone that leaves me playing this song I created, “Why did I buy that?” (To Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love”)
Four: Count Your Blessings or Things
I used to collect bells from around the world until one day they became a chore to clean and pack. So I stopped. I also collected new and old books and CDs. Some were read or listened to and others are still on the shelf. Interestingly, technology has changed all that. I purchase books and music and download them in a portable device. A few of those books are over 80 years old. They are worthy of being collectibles.
Yet again, some found new homes, dumpster or storage. I can’t bring the bells with me when I travel. I can bring the memories of those trips the bells represent.
Five: Give a Gift of Experience Instead of Stuff
Every birthday and Christmas, we showered the kids with toys and more toys. We had a huge basement filled with toys while the kids were growing up in New York. They are teens now. Their toys are either given or thrown away. The memory of playing with toys lingered.
Today we gave away one last item, a complete set of wooden Thomas the Tank trains and bench. I was completely overwhelmed by emotions when I saw that train set depart from our home. We had to part with stuff.
At this age they no longer need more toys or entertainment. We learned the importance of an experience that is educational, fun, socially responsible… and adventurous, cultural, food related that includes history, geography, and culture and language experiences. We found all these ‘goodies’ in traveling.
Six: No More Headaches but There Are Challenges
After two full days the headache was gone. I’m coffee-free and no longer depend on coffee to make my day. I will go back to coffee but not everyday. I had fast recovery because of two things: high quality wholefoods nutritional supplements and aromatherapy using therapeutic grade essential oils. I oiled myself with Peppermint, Lavender, Purification and Peace and Calming.
Travel can take its toll on our health if we are not careful. Setbacks like health challenges, temptations to eat certain foods or drink some forbidden drinks may happen.
Our preparation includes strengthening our mind and body before leaving. We are sacrificing certain food groups and drinks to stay in tune with our body and be aware of what will make us feel better physically. We are embracing a minimalist lifestyle to stay focus and contented. Our stuff, they are just stuff… going to storage and may face the dumpster once again… one day… when I can completely get over with stuff.
It’s time to be proactive and work out a plan that works. Here are seven tips for a healthy mind and body before taking a trip:
Be sugar free
No fast food
Stay relaxed with aromatherapy
Occasional caffeine and sugared water
Homemade and clean food most of the time
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